Watch the Taliban Crash a Black Hawk Helicopter in Afghanistan

The U.S. left behind a wealth of military equipment when it left Afghanistan. That doesn’t mean the Taliban knows how to use it.
FcjLkvzWQAYlVaN
2021 photo of the Taliban with a Black Hawk. Uncre

When America withdrew from Afghanistan, it left behind billions of dollars worth of military equipment, including weapons and vehicles like the UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Taliban seized most of this after U.S. soldiers fled, but it’s already lost one the Black Hawks. On Saturday, during a training exercise over Kabul, one of the helicopters crashed, killing three Afghans and injuring five more, according to Reuters.

Advertisement

"An American Black Hawk helicopter, which was flown ... for training, crashed due to a technical problem inside the campus of the National Defence University," Enaytullah Khowrazmi, a spokesperson for Afghanistan's ministry of defense told Reuters.

We don’t know the exact number of Black Hawks and other military equipment seized by the Taliban after the withdrawal, but four of the helicopters were used in a military parade in August celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Taliban taking power. 

Black Hawks, like much of the military equipment left behind, are complicated machines. Owning them is one thing, but keeping up with the maintenance and piloting them is another. Black Hawks are notoriously difficult pieces of equipment to maintain, and the Afghan security forces relied on a network of contractors to keep up. Those contractors are largely gone now, so the Taliban is left to figure it out for itself.

Sign up for Motherboard’s daily newsletter for a regular dose of our original reporting, plus behind-the-scenes content about our biggest stories.

“However they’re getting them into the air, I can guarantee you it’s not safe,” Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Jack McCain—a man who spent a year in Kandahar and Helmand training Afghan helicopter pilots—told Task & Purpose.  “There are very few circumstances in which a helicopter becomes entirely uncontrollable, and I highly doubt that was what was happening. The pilot was unable to recover with any level of skill; so, whoever was at the controls was obviously not one of the more senior pilots and did not know what they were doing enough to keep them from auguring into the ground.”